ANU Malaysia Institute Launch


Professor Meredith Weiss, Professor James Chin, Professor Michael Leigh


Lecture Theatre 1, Hedley Bull Centre (130), corner of Garran Road and Liversidge Street, ANU


Wednesday, 30 November, 2016 - 14:00 to 16:00

The launch will be followed by light refreshments in the Hedley Bull atrium and register via our Eventbrite page

The College of Asia and the Pacific is pleased to announce the launch of the Australian National University’s Malaysia Institute.

The new ANU Malaysia Institute draws together a wide range of ANU interests in Malaysia, where around 40 academic staff and graduate students are currently researching Malaysia-related topics.

Australia has long-standing institutional and people-to-people ties with Malaysia, which remains a key regional partner for Australia in the twenty-first century. Malaysia is Australia's second-largest trading partner in ASEAN and eighth-largest partner overall. Diplomatic and security ties remain close, including recent agreements on transnational crime and terrorism. Educational exchanges make up much of the people-to-people ties. Around 24,000 Malaysian students study at Australian universities, the second highest number of international students, while another 24,000 are enrolled to obtain Australian qualifications in Malaysia.

In academic studies, many of the most highly regarded works on Malaysian history, politics, economics, sociology and law have been written by Australians, or in Australian universities. Much of this ground-breaking research has been carried out at the ANU.

The new Institute seeks to consolidate the university’s position as the foremost centre of Malaysian studies outside Malaysia. The Institute will provide important scholarly exchanges and research collaboration in a range of disciplines, in order to maintain and enhance the world-leading scholarship of Malaysian Studies in Australia.

The launch of the institute focuses on Malaysia’s politics, where three internationally-renowned speakers will provide insights into the current political situation surrounding corruption allegations, federalism, and a fractured opposition in the lead-up to Malaysia’s next general elections, likely to be sometime in 2017.

About the speakers

Professor Meredith Weiss is Professor of Political Science at the University at Albany, State University of New York. She has published extensively on Malaysian politics, including Student Activism in Malaysia: Crucible, Mirror, Sideshow (2011) and Protest and Possibilities: Civil Society and Coalitions for Political Change in Malaysia (2006). She is currently a Visiting Fellow with the Department of Political and Social Change at the ANU.

Abstract: Learning from Malaysia: Who, What, and Why

The occasion of the launch of the ANU’s Malaysia Institute offers an opportunity for reflection: why study Malaysia, and why here in Australia? Seen either through an academic or a policy lens, the reasons are many. Over the decades, scholarship on Malaysia – a socially ‘plural’, economically developing, and never fully liberal polity – has contributed to theory-development across a range of areas of inquiry in the social sciences and humanities. Moreover, Malaysia’s experience as a middle-income, middle-power state makes it simultaneously distinctive and revealing, whether as a case study or as a partner. Yet unfortunately, Malaysia today tends to slip under the scholarly and analytical radar: too few programs, even in Malaysia, offer opportunities or encouragement for deep, comparatively and theoretically grounded engagement with Malaysian history, politics, and culture. This talk will offer a stocktaking and a way forward, suggesting the need for more, and more critical, work on Malaysia – an enterprise to which this Institute stands to make a key contribution.

Professor James Chin is Director of the Asia Institute, University of Tasmania. He is a prolific writer and frequent commentator on Malaysian affairs with the Australian media. Recent publications include Malaysia Post-Mahathir. A Decade of Change? (edited with Joern Dosch), Marshall Cavendish, Singapore, 2015.

Abstract: Key Political Challenges Facing Malaysia

Political challenges facing Malaysia from five different aspects- Demography, Education, Economy, Political Islam and East Malaysia.

Professor Michael Leigh is one of Australia’s most respected analysts of Malaysia. His long and distinguished career has included appointments at Sydney University (head of the Department of Government and Public Administration 1989-1991), the International College Penang (Director, 1992-6), Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (director of the Institute of East Asian Studies, 1997-2003), Melbourne University (Professor of Contemporary Asia and Director of the Asia Institute, 2004-2006) and the Aceh Research Training Institute (director, 2007-2009). Among his many publications is the seminal The Rising Moon. Political Change in Sarawak, Sydney University Press, 1974. 

Abstract: Malaysian Federalism: The Challenges of Nation Creation

The recently released UK 'migrated archives' and de-classified files from the US Consulate, Kuching cast new light on the process of Malaysia's formation, and the high risk of Malaysia becoming the third of "Britain's failed federations". This paper outlines the sequence of events, the global imperatives, and the role of key characters in the struggle first to establish and then to maintain this new nation, forged from four territories that had never before been governed as one. How have those key decisions impacted federalism today? What is yet to be fully addressed?

Registration is free and essential via our Eventbrite page



Samuel Bashfield

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